Motivation Monday: the training plan edition

In the middle of the Capitol Hill Classic 10K a couple weeks ago, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually run the full distance of the 6.2 mile race for … well, a while. I say this not to make an excuse for my performance that day, but to highlight the moment when I realized something important: I’ve been setting a lot of training goals without necessarily having a training plan to reach those goals.

It’s not that I’m lazy or unaccustomed to mapping out action plans to help me reach my goals. It’s just that I spent many months—years, even—running the kind of distances that meant I could easily call in a 5K, 10K, or even a half-marathon without specifically training for those distances.

Guess what? I’m not running those distances now, and as I’ve already realized with speed, muscle memory only lasts for so long. And clearly, having a conscious intent to do longer runs does not always translate into actual longer runs. Neither does writing a race on a calendar in pencil, and deciding to “see what happens” in terms of training. So, since I’d like to start running some races (rather than just participating in some races), it’s time to devise, print out and start checking off a formal training plan.

I have four events in mind that I’m going to train for:

How serious am I about training for these? I am actually registered for all of the above races. Like, paid actual money and submitted my name and address and emergency contacts and stuff. And after I did so, I sat down with a pencil, highlighter and two calendars to map out an overall sketch of my training plan for the first two:

I will swim at least 3,000 meters twice a week in the roughly eight weeks leading up to the Run-Swim-Run. Thirty minutes of open-water swimming may be substituted for (and is, in fact, preferable to) 3,000-meter pool workouts.

I will run three times per week, as I have been. But I will make sure that one of those runs is a “long run” of at least six miles, building up to at least 10 before the half-marathon.

I’ll chart all of the above in my training log. I may even post the workouts on here, as I did back when I trained for the Virginia Beach Half Marathon in 2010. Back in 2010, my training log looked like this:

My training log for the week of the Capitol Hill 10K in 2010.

And less like this:

My training log for the week of November 2011, when ski season started. Hard to imagine why my long runs have been inconsistent …

In which cases do you map out a training plan versus letting your pre-existing fitness carry you to the finish line? Do you use any other planning tools to keep yourself honest during training cycles?


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2 responses to “Motivation Monday: the training plan edition

  1. “Having a conscious intent to do longer runs does not always translate into actual longer runs.” – Oh, I have been guilty of this one a few times myself!

    I need to do better with logging – Dailymile helps a lot but I need to have a plan. Now that my tendon is back to 100%, and since I had to pull out of my big long ultra, I am going to switch gears and train for a short fast race for a change. That means following a training plan. I’m actually looking forward to it.

    Good luck with your training. Maybe we can run together sometime!

  2. bahahaha. the picture of your november log cracks me up 🙂

    maybe we can run together! although I’m giving up exercise for july.

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